By 509J Communications

Madras High School’s eSports team was a recent recipient of a $14,000 check from Best Buy of Central Oregon and Intel Corporation. The store chose MHS’ team due to the fact the school has the largest eSports team and the most active players in tournaments. 

Best Buy and Intel threw a private celebration for the players and coaches at Lava Lanes in Bend, Oregon in late October to accept the award and have a fun night out as a team in the process. 

“They rented out the private room, the bowling alley in the back. So, it’s like your own little bowling alley, away from everything else,” MHS eSports Head Coach Beau Herman said. “So, they opened up free bowling for everybody. They had a buffet of food that just kept coming. It was unlimited food, unlimited soda or water and then they presented the school and the students with the check.” 

The donation was a surprise to the students who were able to make it to the event. Herman told his students they were receiving an award from Best Buy, but didn’t tell them what it was.

MHS eSports team accepting the check from Best Buy and Intel at the Lava Lanes celebration in late October 2023.

“I was blown away to be honest,” MHS Senior Lincoln Delamarter said. “Knowing they noticed like, hey, eSports is growing here in Madras. They have the biggest team. Let’s keep supporting that. That was, wow.” 

Delamarter was one of a handful of students able to make it down to Bend for the event. He has been in eSports for three years since it was created at Madras High. Currently, his favorite game to play is Splatoon. It is a third-person shooter developed and published by Nintendo. The game features battles using ink to cover the map and “splat” opponents.

He plays on a team with fellow seniors Martin Pina and Maria Miraflor. Both were also able to make it to the bowling event at Lava Lanes. 

“I thought it was really cool at first that we got invited by Best Buy to go bowling,” Pina said “I didn’t figure out they actually donated $14,000 until that night. That was really cool. It just shows that eSports can grow and it can be something and I’m super thankful for Best Buy for even contributing like $100 let alone $14,000.”

He also joined eSports three years ago at the same time Delamarter did. 

“So, the past three years I’ve been doing eSports and it’s just fun going after school playing video games, essentially,” he said. You’re also learning how to communicate with other people and just strategizing and it’s really cool. I like it.”

 Miraflor joined eSports last school year. It started as a way where she could play video games with some friends, but it’s grown into more than just that after spending time in the program. 

“I find myself actually getting more invested into the game and being more aware of the other people,” she said. “I enjoy getting together with the team and playing the game and of course, like the actual competing and winning.”

The check is going to do a lot for the program. The $14,000 is the total cost of everything. They donated four top of the line Dell gaming laptops, four 4K monitors, a CTE eSports curriculum, and $5,000 cash to use for whatever else the team needs. The funds will also be used to purchase streaming equipment so matches can be streamed while students provide play-by-play and analysis over the air. Finally, the program will have $5,000 in cash to use. 

In his three years of leading eSports at MHS, Herman has grown the program from just a handful of students the first year to now more than 50 active students participating. The students in eSports are held to the same academic standards as student athletes in other sports as well like soccer, basketball, or any other sport. 

“We have a failing list every week and if they’re on the failing list, they don’t play and have to find a sub, and if they don’t have a sub then their team forfeits,” Herman said.

He receives help coaching the teams from volunteer coaches that include, Jace Wheeler who works in the IT department, Hunter Welch who is a substitute teacher for our district, and Trevor Walker who is an alum from the Class of 2023. All three coaches  are volunteers.

Students in the program are excited about the growth in the last few years and are looking forward to what MHS eSports can grow into in the years to come. 

“It is one of the most fun activities I’ve participated in the school,” Delamarter said. “The camaraderie in the room, spending time together, all coming together and we all get to be gamers and nerd out about this stuff. It brings people together who like the same activity and it allows them to have a home and I think that’s really special.”

MHS eSports assistant coaches, Hunter Welch (Left) and Jace Wheeler (Right) pose with the the check from Best Buy and Intel at the Lava Lanes celebration in late October 2023.

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